A Manager’s challenges in working with a DevOps Architect

I am a quintessential ‘Manager’ who has an experience of working with an ‘Architect’. Both of us are having about the same years of experience in IT (more or less), but have been through different curves in the industry in a way that our paths went through different lines until we came together to form the DevOps CoE.

(For the sake of simplicity, let us not yet argue about the obsolescence of having a manager in the first place, in the DevOps world)
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So what is it that makes working with an architect, and in this case specifically, a DevOps architect, so different for a manager? To understand that, lets’ briefly talk about what the manager essentially has to do. However, note that on top of being a manager, I have to handle sales and resources to an extent as well, as we just started a few months back and have the usual budget crunch. In that perspective, I have to (a) proactively search through, connect and reach out to people trying to gauge and talk about something called the ‘DevOps value proposition’ and make a sale, (b) once I get the work, trying to get profiles that fit on to the engagement, and possibly buy time talking about getting a value workshop done by an architect or a consultant to get a better view of the engagement and understand customer’s vision, (c) most importantly, scope out the work so that I have more or less some control on what these guys will do and possibly minimize the unexpected, and (d) market research and blogging at my own sweet will. (For convenience’ sake, I am not talking here about the mundane operational tasks that I still have on my plate).

And now enters the DevOps Architect !

What does this guy expect? Ok, here’s the list (+++ means positive impact for me, — means negative):

— (a) proactively search, connect and reach out to architects across the world and talk about, rather write on the web on, DevOps and agility and architectures; now that makes my job difficult given that guys already get to know all that stuff in the market from him, even possibly before I get the project; the risk is high – (i) customers gets to know how a solution to their problems can be achieved, thereby probably bypassing me – so no sales! (ii) information wide open for the competition to pitch in

+++ (b) getting profiles – the architect helps me big time here, given the right connects across to associates and industry experts who know at least 10% DevOps; further this is the guy I look forward to when it comes to buying time by conducting a customer workshop while I search for people who will comprise the ‘project team’

— (c) BIG, BIG PROBLEM ! The DevOps architect talks about Agile, and works with chief architects (these are powerful people) of the customers’ world – that essentially means, he wants to incessantly keep on increasing the scope without any bounds or containment, drawing architectures on the board (on the cloud as if that was possible) – and it takes very less time to actually have things getting out of control. I am suddenly lost on estimations, how many people you will take for the project, whether that has to be done in phases or as a Big Bang, and how much will I actually charge the customer for. On top of that, two more things happen – (i) even the customer managers get jittery (thinking, what will be the invoice coming to at the end of the month), and (ii) the architect convinces everyone around, quite powerfully, that estimates need to be on-the-go (read, Agile!) given that everything is ‘automation’ and hence, can be done in a jiffy! (he becomes the Dev and all around him become Ops)

— (d) There is an indirect impact here. While I may want to concentrate on market research, blogging and conference activities as a marketing guy, the architect pursues his own interests in getting new ideas, building technology solutions and DevOps blueprints, and writing white papers and blogs. The problem is, all these activities, though started with a great zeal, tend to get on to a pending queue with no idea when they will complete. And while I wear the ‘marketing manager’ hat, my attention suddenly gets diverted to emails on awaited expectations on these activities, left incomplete by the architect; as I suddenly start becoming accountable of such activities from marketing perspective.

But then at the end of the day, I am not at all ready to lose my architect as he anyhow saves the day (and helps me make the sale) with his geek talk!

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